Now, finally I get the time to write down everything I've learned from developing MiawFly, a puzzle game where you throw cats everywhere. It's a game that's sort of like a fusion between Angry Birds and Pool, to be precise.
This post will not touch the technical side (there's a LOT, but not in this post, but the next). What I want to touch here is the general game developer strategy from the it-needs-to-make-money side.
However, rather than saying the things point-by-point like many other game marketing articles I've read before/during/after developing MiawFly, what I want to do here is to bring you through the journey of making and marketing a game, from the start to the end.
HOWEVER, this is all my opinion. I'm sure there are other school of thoughts that think differently from me. So don't take me as a gospel (or not), do your own research and experiment yourself!
Okay, so first of all, this is what you need to know:
Yes, you've read that right. The game itself doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if the game is the best thing ever, of if the game is a clone, or the game is a platformer, or the game is a puzzle, or anything that you can think of. The game itself doesn't matter. This is going to sound counter-intuitive, but this is actually the same as when you're selling a product, especially if you have experience doing affiliate marketing. The product doesn't matter. At all.
Then, what matters, anyway? Now, let's take an example with affiliate marketing, more specifically where the affiliate gets a certain amount of commission for each sale. Now, to an affiliate, does it matter if the product is about weight loss, dating, relationships, food, or whatever? Other than maybe personal preference, NONE AT ALL. The only thing that a good affiliate would care about is:
...And these combination of Commission Value and Conversion Rate determines what kind of marketing options that is available to the affiliate.
If the commission value is high (standard is ~$20), that means the affiliate has plenty of options to do marketing. They can either use paid search such as Google Adwords, promote using Facebook Ads, or pay for an ad spot in a popular website.
If the commission value is low, like less than $1, then chances are there's not much thing an affiliate can do to promote it, unless the affiliate already owns a huge website and have essentially 'free traffic' (it's not free since the affiliate needs to retain the traffic, but that's a different topic for a different time).
...And this is where the Conversion Rate comes in.
Let's say, the $20 product have a conversion rate of 1%. That means out of every 100 clicks, 1 person buys it. Assuming a Return on Investment of 100% (meaning that a marketing spend of $10 should return a gross revenue of $20), all things equal, the affiliate can spend $10 to get 100 clicks to get a sale, which is $0.1 / click.
How about the $1 product? Let's say, it has an impressive conversion rate of 25%, which means 1 out of every 4 clicks generates a sale. Assuming an ROI of 100% again, that means the affiliate can spend $0.50 to get 4 clicks, which translates to $0.125/click, a better earnings/click compared to the $20 product.
So, let's take example of the $1 product. Basically, we 'win' if we can somehow buy targeted traffic to the product at less than or equal $0.125 per click. So, how does this work?
If we're advertising on Google Adwords, then your target keywords and your bids need to cost <= $0.125/click.
If we're advertising on Facebook Ads, same thing. <= $0.125/click. Though FB Ads pays on CPM (you pay every 1000 impression rather than clicks), so you'll need to work on your FB ads so that it has a high Click Through Rate (CTR).
If we're advertising on a website: Then you also need to work out / determine the numbers so that the per click cost is still less than or equal to $0.125/click.
So, that's how it works. The earnings per click determines how and what you can or need to do.
Now, what if we are trying to promote a product which only earns us $0.01/click?
TBH, there's not much you can do. You'll be hard pressed to be able to buy ads on Adwords / Facebook at $0.01/click. Unless you own a huge website or a Youtube channel with lots of subscribers, you're pretty much limited to 'free advertising' instead. You need to either talk to people, find some creative ways, beg your family and friends or in Mobile App/Game world, somehow get featured in Play Store and App Store (This is advocated by MDEC speakers, but we'll talk about this in a different post too).
...Alright, I've delved a bit too much into the affiliate world, but this is the important part:
You need to determine the actual 'Commission Value' and the 'Conversion Rate' for your game early on and build them into the game. Maximize them.
Because that is what determines the successfulness of the game once the game is 'done'. It doesn't matter how pretty the game is, but if both your 'Commission Value' and 'Conversion Rate' is low, there will not be much things you can do to promote your game and it'll collect digital dust on both Play and App Store and Steam (or wherever you decide to put your game).
A high Earnings per Click will result in a successful game. A low Earnings per Click will result in a forgotten app/game hidden among the millions and millions of apps and games.
So, how do you determine them?
Before we go through each of them, let's see the 2 categories of Games, at least on mobile.